The Miami Heat are seven games in and are looking at a rather disappointing 2-5 record, good for 12th place in a loaded Eastern Conference. There are many things that could be leading to this. For one, it seems like Miami’s 3 best players in Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro can’t have a dominant game as a complete trio. There is usually one of the three who struggles. Kyle Lowry, although showing signs of improvement, has been inconsistent on both ends of the court. Victor Oladipo has yet to touch the floor who was projected to be the team’s sixth man.
Although, with all that being said, this team is extremely small in the front court. Caleb Martin has showed signs of being a decent starting PF, but it just isn’t enough. Martin has only really had one great game where he’s showed what he is capable of. That was on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers last Wednesday, where Martin put up a stat line of 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals (!) on 7-8 shooting.
Martin was everywhere on the court that night, and made his presence known on both ends. He was getting deflections, jumping into the passing lanes, had some aggressive drives to the rim, and even hit a couple three pointers. It sounds nice, but the problem is that was the only game he was able to be that productive all season long so far. It just seems more like he is better and more comfortable off the bench, where he isn’t relied on as much to put up those numbers and just lets it come naturally.
The front court is so thin though that there really isn’t someone better that can slide into that starting PF role to move Martin to a more comfortable position playing off the bench. Coach Erik Spoelstra has tried numerous different people off the bench during the game to play alongside Adebayo, with none showing true signs of any promise. Whether that’s Haywood Highsmith, Nikola Jovic, Max Strus as the small ball 4, or especially Dewayne Dedmon when inserted to give Adebayo a breather as the center.
Dedmon has not showed much on the court this season besides his ability to get in foul trouble and not be productive defensively. The occasional tip-in doesn’t make up for these problems. That leaves Miami being incredibly thin behind Adebayo, and just as thin behind Martin as the PF. Jovic is super young and has the potential to be a good rotational player some day, but it looks like that day isn’t today.
The only other option coach Spoelstra can try internally is utilizing second year center Omer Yurtseven once returned from injury.
Omer Yurtseven has left the Heat to return to South Florida to get more work on his ankle. He had said yesterday that he hoped to return in a week. But he still has discomfort and mobility impacted— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) October 27, 2022
That day could be coming soon, and after seeing a preview of what Yurtseven can do last year, Heat fans should be very excited for this. Everything he brings is everything this team is lacking; a 7 foot body, rebounder, shot altering, touch around the rim, even durability. It was reported during training camp that coach Spo tried line ups that included Yurt starting, which moved Adebayo to the PF position.
So the trust is clearly there with Yurtseven, although it looks more likely that he is going to get the back up center minutes, at least in the beginning of his return. For those that forgot what a healthy Yurtseven is capable of, here you go:
Miami has been getting killed in the rebounding game all season, which is something that this 7 footer specializes in.
There are also some external move this Miami Heat team can still make, either in the short term or long term at the trade deadline. The one that makes the most sense realistically is a reunion with 3 and D PF Jae Crowder. He has yet to play a game with the Phoenix Suns, and it doesn’t look like that will be changing anytime soon. He’s either going to get traded or eventually bought out.
According to @JakeLFischer, #Heat officials have expressed confidence that Miami is #Suns SF-PF Jae Crowder's preferred destination. https://t.co/B0KDwg7xZn— Kyle Cohen (@kylecohenNBA) October 26, 2022
Isn’t it a coincidence that every year since the Heat acquired Jimmy Butler, they have only looked like real contenders with a true 3 and D PF starting alongside Adebayo? Miami got Crowder in 2020, made the Finals. Then the team lost him to free agency and they went through multiple different options to replace him (which none panned out) in 2021 and got swept in the first round. Then finally getting a true replacement in a dog like PJ Tucker and made it to a Game 7 of the ECF. Miami loses him in free agency after that and now it’s right back to where the team was in that 2021 season; having a gaping hole in the front court and looking mediocre at best.
With it being so early in the season, it’s at least worth a shot in giving Yurtseven a chance to fill our big man void considering he is an internal option. However, even if Yurt is able to produce that still shouldn’t change having the opportunity to look externally for a player like Crowder and have BOTH players in the big rotation.
It is still too early to hit the panic button in South Beach, but it is safe to say this team is in desperate need of beefing up the front court. Whether that’s Yurtseven or Crowder, even both, or a player like Dwight Howard or DeMarcus Cousins who are free agents, even going for a blockbuster trade for a player like Myles Turner. Decisions like this are remained to be seen.